The question of the week for my case study was "What social and economic forces shape communication infrastructure?" I chose to study T-Mobile, and more specifically T Mobile USA, due to them expanding their network and increasing their customer base at a faster rate than any of the other major carriers. During my research, I stumbled upon another case study done by Venkatram and Zhu that focused on telecommunication industry growth in China and India. Their argument was that the three most important factors influencing growth in those areas were: customer subscriptions, technology innovation, and government regulation and policies.
I agreed with their argument and began to study how T-Mobile was influencing these "factors" to continue to grow their network. Part of the reason T-Mobile has amassed so many more subscribers than AT&T, Verizon and Sprint is due to the services they offer. They offer the cheapest data and phone plans of all the major carriers, have no contract plans, no domestic roaming or overages fee, and recently just started paying the termination bill for customers who choose to switch to their network. During discussion, a classmate also mentioned that T-Mobile's abroad plan is extremely affordable, so increasing customer subscriptions can become a global thing for T-Mobile.
As far as technology innovations, T-Mobile doesn't innovate, but they certainly implement. The are one of the only carriers that offer VoIP (wifi calling) and have the fastest LTE speeds of all major carriers. This is due to them buying the 700 MHz spectrum as well as partnering with Nokia Networks to provide "LTE-Advanced equipment and services that will cover new spectrum bands, helping to improve coverage and capacity for in-building, highway and rural areas." Government regulation also is a major factor in their growth. The purchase off the 700 MHz and partnering with Nokia Networks all had to be approved by the FCC. They also charge specific fees in their monthly bill like the Texas Recovery Fee, and Regulatory Programs Fee which are used to comply with local, state, and federal laws.
During class discussion, I asked if T-Mobile could continue their growth into the top 2 of national carriers, or would it stay as kind of like a second tier for most consumers. Some said they could definitely see T-Mobile continue to grow, not just here in the states but all over the world. I agree and I think the future for them is expanding their network so VoIP and VoLTE becomes the new norm.